, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 181-189
Date: 09 Feb 2010

Barriers to a healthy lifestyle among obese adolescents: a qualitative study from Iran

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Existing data show a rising prevalence of overweight and obesity among Iranian adolescents. The current study investigates adolescents’ perceptions regarding overweight/obesity and explores barriers to a healthy life style among Iranian adolescents.


A grounded theory approach was used for analyzing the participants’ experiences, and their perceptions. To collect data, semi-structured focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were conducted with 51 adolescents (27 girls and 24 boys), aged 15–17 years, who were either overweight or obese. Qualitative content analysis of the data was conducted manually and differences in coding were resolved via discussion by four independent reviewers.


Two main barriers, personal and environmental emerged from data analysis. Positive perception of condition, priority of studying, lack of willingness, unsatisfactory results, low self-esteem, and perceived lack of control were the major personal barriers while lack of family and cultural support, inadequate education and scarcity of resources were the common environmental barriers to adolescents’ healthy lifestyles.


Findings demonstrated the main personal and environmental barriers for a healthy life style as perceived by adolescents. Understanding these barriers might contribute to existing literature by providing evidence from a different culture, and help to design effective preventive strategies, and implement appropriate interventions.